May 2020
Financial Aid Appeals
Many students and families have experienced changes in their financial situation over the past few months and may be wondering if they can request additional financial aid from colleges. The good news is students and families can appeal for more financial aid and we encourage them to do so! Below are some tips to help navigate the appeal process.
1. Know that students can appeal

Even prior to COVID-19, students and families were encouraged to appeal the financial aid offer (also referred to as requesting a professional judgment or special circumstances review) if their financial situation had changed or there was something impacting the family’s ability to pay that was not on the FAFSA. Now, it is more critical than ever that students and families know it is appropriate to ask for an appeal and recommended that they reach out to the financial aid office to discuss financial challenges.
2. Evaluate the situation

Determine what is different from what was on the FAFSA. Has there been a reduction in income or a job loss? Have parents divorced or separated? Has a parent passed away? Also think about information that was never on the FAFSA that impacts the family's ability to pay for school, including significant out-of-pocket medical expenses, parent repayment of educational loans, or other significant non-discretionary expenses. Although students can simply ask for more money, most of the time a change in situation must be identified to be considered for more financial aid.
3. Connect with the financial aid office

Contact the financial aid office and provide a quick overview of the situation. Ask whether an appeal is possible, and if so, what is the next step? Is there a specific form required or should the student and/or parent simply write a letter? What type of documentation should be included? When calling the aid office be sure to make a note of the date and name of the financial aid administrator with whom the situation was discussed. If using email, be sure to save all related emails.
4. Submit required forms and/or write a letter

Complete any required forms provided by the financial aid office. Even if a form is required, it is helpful to write a letter. When writing a letter, include the following information:
 
  • summary of the situation, including the impact on the family;
  • statement that the special circumstance was beyond the family’s control, if appropriate;
  • documentation of the situation; and
  • contact information in case the financial aid office has follow up questions.
 
Keep the letter concise - no more than a page or two. For help writing an appeal letter, check out a new, free online service called SwiftStudent .
5 . Work collaboratively with the Financial Aid Office

These are really challenging times. Many students and families are experiencing financial situations that are extremely stressful. Financial aid offices are being swamped with appeals while dealing with the transition to working from home so be aware it may take some time before they reply. When it comes to appeals, financial aid administrators are the only individuals who have the authority to make adjustments. The best scenario is for students and families to discuss their circumstances openly, even when it is difficult, and work together with the financial aid administrator to find solutions.
Want more information?
Join us for this month's FREE Wednesday Webinar:

Financial Aid Appeals

Wednesday, May 13, 2020
1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

 Students and families have always been encouraged to pursue appeals when current circumstances are different than what is reflected on the FAFSA. But during this time of economic instability, it is especially important that students understand what options exist. In this session we’ll discuss the various types of appeals, as well as explore the process and timing of appeals. We will also share some new resources that can make pursuing requests for review easier. Lastly, we’ll look to the future and attempt to forecast the impact of these economic disruptions on the 2021-2022 FAFSA and financial aid cycle.
For additional helpful information and resources, find  previous issues of 5 on the 5th on our website.

FAME's College Access and Financial Education Team:

Mary Dyer , Financial Education Officer
Maria MacDougal , College Access Counselor
Floreka Malual , College Planning Advisor
Nikki Vachon , College Access Counselor
Jessica Whittier , College Access Counselor 
Mila Tappan , College Access and Outreach Manager
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